Anti-Fracking Group Sounds Warning Over Gas Well Inspections

Jul 19, 2012

An anti-fracking group has released results of a study that finds New York State is backlogged when it comes to inspecting existing gas wells - the paper says that the New York State department of Environmental Conservation wouldn't be able to make additional inspections that would be required should Hydrofracking be allowed - even if the practice is limited to just a few counties.

Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports...

The Earthworks Oil & Gas Accountability Project compared petroleum well inspection and enforcement history in New York against five states where fracking is permitted. The findings indicated that only one in four of New York's 10-thousand One-hundred thirty-four wells were inspected during 2010, far fewer than in Texas, where more than half of that states nearly 283-thousand wells were inspected.  But New York did far better than Ohio and Pennsylvania, where the inspection rate is 1 in 10.

There has been speculation the Cuomo Administration will allow hydrofracking in the Southern Tier where there has been a showing of political support.  If fracking gets the green light, observers say hundreds of new wells could be drilled in the space of a year- there are now 17 DEC inspectors compared to 20 back in 2003.

Earthworks' Marcellus Program co-ordinator Nadia Steinzor says the current level of oversight is woefully inadequate. 

A DEC hydrofracking advisory panel of representatives from government, industry and environmental organizations hasn't met since December, and DEC officials says the group has no plans to meet again until after the environmental review has been completed. 

New York DEC's Director of Public Information Emily DeSantis would not go on tape. She responded to a request for comment by email, quoting -- "DEC has recognized the need for additional staffing to oversee high-volume hydraulic fracturing operations. We have repeatedly said we will only review the number of permits that we can responsibly oversee given staffing levels if high-volume hydraulic fracturing moves forward in New York. The draft SGEIS details a comprehensive monitoring and inspection program to be followed for high-volume hydraulic fracturing, including no fewer than 13 site visits over the course of the well drilling and completion process."